The State Of Our Union....Better Than Some Others

Saturday, January 29, 2011

President Obama has now delivered his third state of the union speech and I found this one pretty interesting. There is no doubt that President Obama has entered back into campaign mode. What I found most interesting was how much he was trying to be a centrist leader again.

There didn't seem to be much as much energy as usual in this speech though. You could tell as you watched it that it was another speech full of feel good rhetoric and little in the way of an actual plan for the future of the country. Actions speak louder than words and all of the centrist rhetoric in the world can't erase the course you've charted with past actions. President Obama seems oblivious to the real problems facing not only this country but the entire world.

It's not that much of a surprise really. After all he doesn't really have any experience, much less a successful record, in facing these kinds of issues whether it's the recession or foreign policy. One thing we've learned in the last few years is that we needed much more than a "community organizer" full of hope and change to face the major problems that seem to be materializing and growing all over the world.

The major focus of late has no doubt been the riots and protests happening all over the world, most notably Egypt and Tunisia. I've been watching as the stories develop and wanted to take you back to Tuesday and this story from Reuters. Keep in mind this story was the same day as the State Of The Union speech.


Their complaints echo those of fellow Arabs in Tunisia: soaring food prices, a lack of jobs and authoritarian rule that usually crushes protests swiftly and with a heavy hand."

I can't help but wonder if that's the order the demands were stated in and if it was based on priority. I say that because I see the first two reasons as things we here in the U.S. are in very imminent danger of facing ourselves.

One of the great blessings we have here in our Constitution is the freedom of speech. Sure the President has the right to speak out and call Tea Party members right wing extremists or whatever other names those in disagreement with the conservative message of the Tea Party movement may choose to use, but in the end both sides are protected by the freedom of speech. Here, we stand with the protesters, but do not face the issue ourselves. More proof that our Constitution is not, and never will be, outdated.

However, now we get to the other two issues; high unemployment and "soaring" food prices. One is easy to talk about. We've had fairly high unemployment for the last couple of years and despite President Obama's best rhetoric it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Sure, he'll mention the "1 million private sector jobs created" last year, but he forgets to mention the amount of jobs lost. As an generous example let's say you lose $75.00 but then make $25.00. I know this is complicated stuff but I don't think you made 25 bucks, I think you lost $50. If job creation was more than just feel good political rhetoric than the unemployment rate would go down since more jobs = less unemployment, anybody having trouble with that one?

"The population is growing 2 percent a year and has a "youth bulge," with some 60 percent under 30 years old. Nine out of 10 jobless Egyptians are in this age group."

High youth unemployment......well it's a good thing there's nothing like that going on here.....oh, wait.

"They included calling for Mubarak to step down, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to quit, parliament to be dissolved and the formation of a national government. A union activist repeated the demands to the crowd in the square by megaphone."

A union activist?!! I'm shocked how about you? It looks like workers of the world unite isn't just a (communist) slogan anymore, it's the way we have to do our work. What's that? Oh that's right, Obama's debt commission member Andy Stern already said that. I'm sure it's no big deal so just ignore that.

"The ministry blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for rioting that took place, although the banned Islamist group has only played a bit part in the protests"

Well, now I'm relieved, if this group gains control of the country then we'll potentially have a second Iran on our hands and I'm sure that'll be fantastic. After all the people of Iran have it good don't they? Remember the protests there? Isn't it funny that President Obama and the left seemed to be more harsh talking about the tea party protests than they are when they see actual violence and riots? I'm sure it's just a coincidence so never mind.

What about high food prices? We all know that food has been on the rise lately but it has yet to really soar, the keyword there is yet. One thing we routinely take for granted here is the fact that America hasn't seen severe inflation since the 1970's. Now, that means that people in my age group and younger haven't seen heavy duty inflation our entire lives, unless of course you count the soaring housing bubble which has since burst and hurt thousands of families.

During the state of the union President Obama said, "we stand with the people of Tunisia". That's great but if they are protesting because of high unemployment, and food inflation then why are we following economic policies that are delivering those same results?

Another thing I found fascinating was President Obama speaking out against the government of Egypt shutting down the Internet and social networks. Condemn it all you want to on TV Mr. President but isn't that exactly the kind of control you want over our Internet?

I had a conversation with someone today and he claimed that the government can't shut down the Internet here because there are more providers than there are in Egypt and the government can't shut them down. This is not true.

A statement issued by Vodafone Egypt said it had been instructed to suspend services in some areas.

"Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it," it said.

Do you really think that giving President Obama control of the Internet here won't allow that statement to potentially read:

Under U.S. legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it.

Given all of the things that this administration keeps trying to tell us it has to "regulate" which really means control this sounds plausible to me. Like I said, I found it fascinating that the President is criticizing Egypt for doing the very thing he himself wants to be able to do here.

Then we have the price of oil. This story from Forbes spells it all out.

"The situation could have ripple effects worldwide if the Suez Canal becomes jeopardized or even shut down. According to Canaccord Genuity, “this may be impactful as approximately 1.8 million bb/d of oil was transported through the Suez Canal in 2009. A closure of the canal would result in an extra 6,000 miles of travel for any oil being transported out of the region, an additional cost which could drive up oil prices.”"

Now, we were already hearing fears of $5.00/gallon gas coming our way. You may remember that when oil was trading at $147/barrel the price at the pump was $4.00/gallon. If this crisis persists we could see $200+/barrel and that translates into a pump price of over $5.00/gallon. That means a $100.00 fill up for a 20-gallon tank. At a time of declining wages and the struggles average families already face this will be devastating for many of us.

Never mind how devastating that would be to so many who are already struggling due to this recession. Think about all of the businesses in this country that have to ship the stuff to the stores for us to buy. That will cause inflation in and of itself even if all of the other inflation figures prove to be wrong, (which they aren't). The price of literally everything will go up as oil does.

In closing, the state of our union is fragile and the struggles we are facing are bigger than any politician seems to have the courage to tell you. It'll take more than a charming, charismatic, feel good speech to fix the problems we must confront. I for one am sick of hearing about 25 year plans that a president has, (considering a president only serves a max of 8), and that goes for president's of the past as well.

We face very severe challenges in the near future and I fear far too many of us are falling for the same old political rhetoric that we hear from both sides all the time. Too many people are not prepared for what may be coming our way. That, I fear, is sadly the real state of our union.


Bailout Green Jobs Bail Out Of Mass While Obama's Economic Advisory Door Keeps Rotating

Friday, January 21, 2011

There are 2 things I'd like to address with this blog post. The first is a story out of what is, (unfortunately), my home state of Massachusetts regarding those wonderful "green jobs" and bailouts.

Evergreen Solar, a company that manufactures solar panels etc. here in Massachusetts. They have received $40 million in "state financing", basically bailout money, to build a plant and created some of those fantastic "green jobs" you hear so much about. This story explains all of the details and as usual I'd like to highlight some of the finer points of the story.

"Evergreen makes the case that the China move will make everything better and, on paper at least, it looks like it has potential.

But in Massachusetts, the nearly 1,000 people employed by Evergreen — in Marlborough and at its Devens manufacturing plant — might not be as rosy about China."

You see, the main point is that the company is shifting it's manufacturing to China where it's cheaper to do so. The bailout funds came with strings attached as they had to maintain the Massachusetts jobs for a few years but that gives them plenty of time to get established in China. The article points out the problems with these "green jobs" and the facts that may well show just how temporary they may be.

"• Everything that Evergreen Solar is doing in Devens — wafers and cells — is also being done in China
• Evergreen Solar will no longer be making its own solar panels by the end of 2011
• Evergreen’s Massachusetts job requirements will start expiring in 2012, and the company will be free of its commitments by 2014"

Translation: All of you in Massachusetts who received these great "green jobs" with that bailout money are almost guaranteed to be out of the job come 2014. That's only 3 years away. These bailout led economic plans are garbage and that leads me to part 2 of this post.

President Obama changes economic advisers more often than celebrities change spouses. His newest superstar is Jeffrey Immelt of GE. Under Immelt's superstar leadership GE has lost some 50% of it's stock value but he's of course tied into the light bulb industry which now has all sorts of new regulations regarding energy use. Do you still not see the trend America? It's just like the labor unions being in collusion with government despite bankrupting many states.

I'd like to leave you with one last link. This video takes awhile to watch but it's fascinating and will teach you more about history and economics than all of Obama's so-called economists could ever hope to know. This video will show you what's going on in such a clear way and with so many facts of history that even the most daring progressive liberal will just hide over at the Huffington Post cracking jokes about right wingers rather than risk engaging in a debate.

Watch and learn.

If you've taken the time to watch that entire video I have to ask you something. Did that video make sense to you? Or do you still think we're on the road to recovery simply because Obama keeps telling you that we are? "Back from the brink" my ass.


The Arizona Shooting

Friday, January 14, 2011

Unlike most of the media I decided to wait for as much information regarding the Arizona shooting before I headed to the blog to speculate and place blame on a group or ideology. There is something I want to show you though. Some of what I will say here has been said by others, like Glenn Beck and President Obama. Take a look at this:

"Before the liberals try to blame the AZ shooting on some gun toting right winger they should take a look at some of his favorite books including the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. This is a tragedy caused by a crazy person and we'll find out more about the motive of Jared Loughner soon. I liked some of Gabrielle Giffords' positions and disagreed with others. I hope she makes a full recovery and my prayers are with all who were injured or killed today and their families. This isn't the Liberals fault or the Conservatives fault. This is the fault of a crazy person doing a tragically crazy thing.

I have to admit that I feel worse about the 9 year old who was killed than the others, especially since most of the focus will be on the congresswoman. I think most will understand and forgive me for feeling that way though. When tragedies such as this happen to children it can't help hitting us in the heart just a little bit harder. God Bless all who are suffering on this tragic day."

Take a second and re-read the bold text there. You know who said that? I did on facebook. Do you know when I said that? Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 6:35pm

I had that position the day of the shooting and I maintain that position now. It's unfortunate that so many others have an inability to do the same. Of course the left and the right want to go immediately into the partisan political debate whenever someone crazy does something crazy. The left immediately tried to liken this guy to a gun toting tea party member. The right considered him a crazy leftist.

While I pointed out that two very leftist books are included in his favorite books, I also pointed out that I did not and do not blame Liberals or Conservatives for this guys actions. You'd think that the left would do the same considering the following.

When you talk about the violence on the border and the problem with illegal immigration as legitimate reasons to increase border security, (as Gabby Giffords supported), opponents of that view instantly accuse you of wanting to punish hard workers who just want to support their families.

If a Muslim extremist blows themselves up and kills a bunch of innocent people, (including children), there's instant outcry as to how this isn't the Muslim religion as a whole. We all agree on that but it's rather hypocritical for the left and right to begin attacking each other on ideology regarding the AZ shooting.

There are countless similar stories where tragedy is used to make a political point. Remember how after 9/11 some people were attacked because they were perceived as being Muslim? George Bush even made a statement to try and calm people down and even those on the left who hated damn near everything about George Bush agreed with this speech.

I'm also not going to criticize the Obama speech at the memorial on Wednesday because I liked the speech. The cheers and applause at times from his college kid base seemed a bit inappropriate as it was a memorial service for those who died and not a campaign stop. I can forgive that to a point though because if you're a fan of President Obama then I understand that it's exciting to see him.

I really don't have much else to say as I think I've covered all I was hoping to cover. Hopefully, this makes you reflect for a moment on how you saw this tragedy. From what I can see, Glenn Beck, President Obama, and I seemed to get it right. While so many pundits from the typical partisan podiums got it wrong. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

It's not about right and left, it's about right and wrong.


A New Year And A New Set Of Resolutions

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's the new year and I hope everyone has had a good holiday season but now it's back to work. Did you make a new years resolution to yourself this year? It's something we always seem to do but never spend much more than a month really focusing on.

We tell ourselves things like, "I'll quit smoking" and by March we're lighting them up. Another favorite is that "I'll lose weight this year". This proves much easier to say after stuffing yourself regularly for the past month with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cutting back is easy in January but it usually doesn't pan out so well as the months go past and the new years resolution moves further and further into the back of our minds.

Well, I decided to pick something easier to stick with this year. I've decided to start going to church and bringing my daughters in with me. It had been several years since I last went to church, (my daughters baptism to be exact), and even then I pretty much never attended. I've always worked on Sundays and thus couldn't make attending church a priority, although I can't help but think that maybe it was more of a personal excuse than a real reason.

I'm not going to start getting all religiously preachy to you hear but a relevant story regarding politics came out of my attending church and it's almost amazing considering that it was the first time I'd been to church in so long.

Now, before I explain the story let me set it up by saying that it was the preacher who started it. I would also like to clarify that I'm not accusing the preacher of using the pulpit to take a bias political stand in favor of one ideology or another. I didn't take the message as such after listening to the whole point but it did worry me for a moment as this particular section of the service began. For the record, after the service, even though I'd only met the preacher at the start of the service 1 hour and 15 minutes before it ended, I took a minute to talk to him about what was said. Let me explain what happened.

This story starts with me asking you something. Have you ever heard the story of the grasshopper and the ant? I'll give you the whole story soon but most of us who know it are aware that it basically goes like this:

The ant works hard all summer storing food and preparing for the winter while the weather is nice and food is abundant. The grasshopper sings and wastes time all summer figuring he has lots of time to prepare for winter and through that procrastination he never actually does prepare for that coming winter. The grasshopper ends up pretty much begging the ant for help when winter does hit because of his lack of preparation. Moral of the story....too much play and not enough work leaves you screwed and begging those who have worked hard to prepare for help.

Simple, right? Now here's where it gets interesting and why the preacher caught my attention with the story. He didn't go into detail much about the story but he did refer to the grasshopper as what we would call more liberal and the ant as more conservative. The words liberal and conservative actually used by the preacher are what really caught my attention.

Now, at first I was worried that this was about a social justice farce, (essentially liberal propaganda being pushed by the church), as he began to talk about the how the ant should be generous and not charge the grasshopper for help since the singing of the grasshopper etc. helped make the work environment better for the ant and the grasshopper deserved the ant's help since he didn't charge the ant for those songs.

That of course is bull as the grasshopper wasn't slacking off for the benefit of the ant, he was only being lazy and putting what was fun ahead of what needed to be done. The reason I don't hold the point of view made by the preacher against him was because he continued to talk about the need to be generous with what you have and that's how he saw the ant's situation. Given the fact that this church is currently trying to help the local homeless people, (yes, even though we have that wonderful governor Deval and the man of the people Barney Frank as a congressman, there are in fact homeless people here. Shocking, I know), that message of generosity is the one the preacher was trying to convey.

The story itself is practically ancient, Wikipedia will give you more info about the history of it. Here's one version and it's worth noting that none of the versions are more than a page. The version I have comes as a preloaded classic in the kobo ereader. This is exactly what the story from that version says:

"The Ants And The Grasshopper

THE ANTS were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."

That's it, directly out of Aesop's Fables. Now back to the preacher, the actual story seems to have the ants pretty much saying tough to the grasshopper. Keep in mind that the grasshopper wasn't singing for the benefit of the ants, it was only his own laziness. He wasn't singing out of generosity, he was singing out of stupidity. While I understand the preacher's twisting of the story to fit in line with the generosity of the church the message is in fact an inaccuracy of the actual story.

I mentioned to the preacher after the story that while the point he was making about generosity was good and I liked the fact that he likened the attitude of the ants to conservatives and the grasshoppers to liberals, (anyone really want to argue with that one?), in truth had both the grasshopper and ants worked together to stockpile food for the winter then perhaps both would have had time to play as well as work. Stick with me on this as I'll now tie it into modern day politics.

The problem with our current situation is that the government under the Liberals has been doing all it can to turn everyone into grasshoppers using things like stimulus money, (3 years of unemployment anyone?), when what we need are in fact more ants, (workers). Another truth to the story that's lacking from government is the fact that the ants didn't have some government praying mantis showing up to take what the ant had to give to the grasshopper, yet isn't that what the government tries to do to the workers in order to pay for the non-workers?

Would the ants keep stockpiling for winter if they knew they wouldn't be able to keep the fruits of that labor? Would you continue to work hard if you knew the government would be taking your money just to pay for it's own greedy special interest? After 3 years of unemployment and living off of the government would you really even have the desire to return to the work force? That's assuming you could even find a good job or retain all of your skills. Or would you just decide that living off of the government is easier and requires little work and effort so why stop. That is the tragedy of the government rushing in to save the day.

So tell the government to stop using stimulus money, (our money), to breed a bunch of human grasshoppers. Get out of the way and let us grow more ants so we can get down to business and save our country.

As for those reading this, speak up and join the debate, left or right it doesn't matter. The problem with blogs is that I say something, you read it and at best leave a quick comment. Join the debate and let me know what you think on Facebook.


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